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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  September 2, 2016 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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09/02/16 09/02/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! could the signgning of a historc peace accord in colombia between the government and farc rebels bring an end to latin america's longest armed conflict? first, the agreement must first be approved despite right-wing opposition.
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we'll speak with professor mario murillo, a author ofof "colombid the e united statetes: war, unr, and destabilization." and with adriana benjumea, director of the bogota-based human rights group humanas colombia. then, we return to the united states to look at debtors prisons in arkansas where e a county has been jailing poor people who owe feeees for writig bad checks. we'll speak with a woman who once wrote a check for $1.07 for a loaf of bread. the check bounced and her debt ballooned after fees and fines to nearly $400. we'll also speak with nikki -- were kristen clarke represents a mother who spent 35 days in a county jail after she accidentlyly bounceded a 20 nigt check five years ago. then a federal judge has denied a request for life-saving hep c drug for mumia abu-j-jamal.
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he found penciling his protocol or who gets the drug in prison is unconstitutional. >> judge recognizes with the commonwealth is doing and has been doing for years is not only unjust, but not right. unconstitutional. a violation of phenomenal dish environmental fairness and the human right to life. amy: we will speak with mumia abu-jamal plus attorney bob boyle. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. hurricane hermine has made landfall in florida, unleashing torrents of rain and storm surges and up to 80 mile per hour winds. as many as 23 million people may be affected by the storm, which is the first hurricane to reach landfall in florida in more than a decade.
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more than 70,000 people have lost electricity in tallahassee. the storm is now headed toward georgia, although forecasters say it has weakened into a tropicical storm. in campaign news donald trump , has lost support from members of the latino community following his hard-line speech in phoenix on wednesday, in which he promised to deport 2 million people within his first hour in office. houston attorney jacob monty has resigned from trump's national hispanic advisory council. alfonso aguilar, president of the latino partnership for conservative p principles,s, has withdrawn his endorsement for trump. ramiro pena, a pastor in texas who is also on trump's hispanic advisory council, wrote in an email to republican leaders that the council appears to be a scam and said -- trump -- mr.ther trump lost the election tonight." meanwhile, trump is again
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changing up his campaign team. he's now hired david bossie, the president of citizens united, to be his deputy campaign manager. bossie is a longtime right-wing operative who has spent years investigating hillary and bill clinton. "the washington post" is reporting part of bossie's job will be to craftft attack ads against clinton. donald trump's wife, melania trump, has sued the daily mail online and a maryland blog for libel, alleging the two sites falsely claimed she'd been involved with an escort agency. she's being represented by lawyer charles harder, who also represented hulk hogan in his lawsuit against gawker, which forced gawker media to declare bankruptcy, sell itself to univision, and shut down its flagship website. hillary clinton is winning the backing of more members of the military establishment. retired four-star generals bob sennewald and david maddox issued their first-ever publish
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endorsements both saying they , support hillary clinton. clinton has also embraced the endorsements by general john allen, who led u.s. forces in afghanistan, and john negroponte, the former director of national intelligence and former u.s. ambassador to honduras while i it was the stagaging ground for the u.s.s.-backed contras inin nicacaragua. in pakistan, at least 13 people have been killed after a suicide bomb attack on a district court in the northwest city of mardan. in a separate suicide bomb attack, at least one person was killed in a christian neighborhood in the city of peshawar. no one has claimed responsibility for either attack. in the small african nation of gabon, more than a 1000 0 people have been arrerested and several hahave been killlled amid ongogg prprotests after gabon's contted electionons sunday. incumbent president ali bongo has claimed d victory, cononting his family's decadedes-long rul. protesters have torched the parliament building, while opposition candidate jean ping
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says his headquarters have been bombed. this is one of the protesters. >> we are tired of the bongo family. 50 years. 50 yearsrs 50 years. we are tired and this is why we are making demands. amy: in india, more than a -- 100 million workers have gone on strike today to protest the modi government's "anti-worker and anti-people" policies. workers blocked railroad tracks and roroads across india. trade unioions say as many a as0 million workers may paparticipae in today's strike. this is brindada karat othee communist paparty of india. placecestrike is plaguing -- taking placace where there is false propaganda. it is accccentuated inequality o the extent that today's 100 of the most families which h were e most well in india have more
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wealth, have more assets than around two thirds of the rest of the population. in colombia, coca colala and moe than 50 other companies have been accused of financing terrorism. colombian courts accuse coca cola of hiring assassins from the paramilitary group, united self-defense forces of colombia, to murder at least 10 labor leaders between 1990 and 2002. american fruit company chiquita is also accused of financing the paramilitary organization. families of the victims of this -- have also sued chiquita in u.s. court. the case against coca cola and the 50 other companies will be heard by a transitional justice tribunal. we'll have more on colombia later in the broadcast.. delegations of veterans for peace activists have arrived in okinawa, japan, to join protests against the construction of u.s. marine helipads in takae, as well as the construction of a new u.s. military base in henoko.
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residents of okinawa have staged massive protests against both the propoposed basase and the helipadsds. okinawa a already housuses about 26,000 u.s. troops. the e veterans foror peace delegations arrived as a u.s. marine was arrested in okinawa for allegedly trying to enter a woman's apartment. earlier this summer, massive protests erupted on okinawa after a former u.s. marine working as a civilian contractor at a u.s. basese was accused of raping and murdering a 20-year-old woman. the victim's father has called for the removal of all u.s. bases on okinawa. back in the united states, florida hospitital and orlanando regiononal medical centeter have announceced they will l not bibe victims of t the june 1212 pulse nightctclub massssacre for their medical care. 49 people died during thehe attackck. most of the victims were young latino members of the lgbtq community. this is one of the survivors, rodney sumter. >> i was shot in the back. i had a hole the size of a
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baseball. this arm is bothering the the most. being that we do not have to pay bills -- iospital was in the for 16 days. it is definitely a big thing for me. amy: in virginia, the romanian hacker known as guccifer 2.0 has been sentenced to 52 months in prison. in june, guccifer claimed responsibility for hacking into the dnc's computer network. he's thought to be the source of the 200,000 dnc emails released by wikileaks in july. he was extradited from romania earlier this spring and has pled guilty to identity theft and unauthorized access of a protected computer. in indiana, purvi patel -- who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for what she e says was a miscarriage -- has been freed. in 2015, patel was convicted of
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feticide, becoming the first person in u.s. history sentenced to prison for what the state said was a an attempt to end her own pregnancy. her conviction sparked widespread outrage. in july, her conviction was overturned. she walked free from an indianapolis prison on thursday. meanwhile, stanford swimmer leaveturner is slated to a santa clara jail today after serving only three months of a six-month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. his short sentence has sparked massive outrage against the judge in the case. judge aaron persky. it has also inspired california lawmakers to pass a new law requiring prison time for those convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious victim.m. in a widely read letter, brock turner's victim wrote -- "you took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice until today."
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georgetown university has announced it will afford preferential admissions status to the descendents of africans enslaved and sold by the university itself. in 1838, georgetown sold 272 enslaved africans belonging to prominent jesuit priests to help secure the future of the catholic institution. on thursday, georgetown's president john degioia said he'd issue a formal apology for the sale, as well as afford their descendants the same admissions treatment afforded to children of faculty and alumni. at the ceremony, however, the descendants of the enslaved challenged the georgetown president saying georgetown had , excluded them from the process. one of the descendants, joe stewart, said -- "we are those faces and our attitude is: nothing about us without us. if reconciliation is gonna take place as it has to, it needs to start at home and you don't start reconciling by alienating."
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and more nfl players are joining 49ers quarterback colin kaepernick in refusing to stand for the national anthem. kaepernick began the protest last week, saying -- "i am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." on thursday night, 49ers safety eric reid joined kaepernick, who kneeled during anthem ahead of a preseason game against the san diego chargers. that same night, seahawks cornerback jeremy lane also refused to stand, instead . reid and lane are both african american. kaepernick is biracial -- his biological father is black and mother is white. he was raised by two white adoptive parents. last week, kaepernick vowed to continue sitting until there's significant change. >> i will continue to sit.
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i will continue to stand with the people being oppressed. to me, this is something that has to change. when there's significant change and i feel like that flag represents what it is supposed to represent and this country is representing people the way it is supposed to, i will stand. amy: according to the guardian, 723 people across the united states have been killed by police so far this year. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: and i'm juan gonzalez. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. we begin today's show with the historic peaeace accord in colombia between government officials and farc rebels that is the latest step in efforts to end one ofof the world's longest conflicts. fighting first began in 1964 and has claimed d some 220,000 live. more than 5 million people are estimated to have been displaced. early monday morning, farc leaderer timoleon jimenez orderd
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his followers to lay down their arms. >> in my position as commander of t the farc ep, i order all of our leaders come all of our units, every and each one of our combatants to cease-fire and hostilities in a definitive manner against the colombian state from midnight tonight. amy: colombian president juan manuel santos applauded the deal, saying it heralds a new and brighter chapter in the country's turbulent history. this morning at midnight, the bilateral and definitive cease-fire started in this war with the farc. today, hours later, we are and not grading the inclusive most important and complete center of rehabilitation and all of latin america. it is a joyful coincidence because it shows the closing of the chapter and opening of another different one than the one all colombians have experienced and suffered for the
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last 50 years. amy: well, the cease-fire that would bring an end to latin america's longest armed conflict must now be approved in a referendum in colombia, where it's likely to face staunch opposition from right-wing sectors led by the former colombian president, alvaro uribe. for more, we're joined now by two guests. mario murillo is a longtime colombian activist and a professor of communications at hofstra university. author of "colombia and the united states: war, unrest, and destabilization." day adrianas to , benjumea, the director of humanas colombia, a bogota-based ngo that promotes human rights and, in particular, women's rights. benjumea is also a feminist lawyer, specializing in international humanitarian law. we welcome you both to democracy now! mario, your response to this his store deal that was reached in havana, cuba? a majorestion it is event. most colombians are welcoming it. it is a major, historical development ththat everybody shouould be applauding.
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we have e to be c clear to calla peace process, a peace agreement is one thing with the farc and government. but there is a long way to go before we see a real development of strong and lasting peace. this is the end of a military , perhapsbetween farc the largest military guerrilla organization and l latin americ, with a government, but there is plenty off evidence this ongoing armed violence is going to continue until a lot of issues are resolved in the countryside. juan: mario, we mentioned this is the longest-running conflict possibly in the world, but he goes back even further because, really, this particular guerrilla war started in 1964 but that was preceded by 10 yearars of civil war that t is n -- dating back to 1948. >> we can talk about the roots of the internal conflict going back to the early parart of the 20th century, but the violence in the countryside and the farc rebels emerging as a a result of
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the lack of addressing them in issues in the countryside, rural developments, security issues, infrastructure, human rights -- all of those issues that the farc laid out in the 1960's, they go back a decade earlier. and they will continue to be issues even as the farc lay down their weapons hopefully in the next six months or so. it is a long, historical conflict that is hopefully beginning to make some changes -- some changes will be happening that will be favorable to the long-term peace. amy: explain how this works now. it is not done. >> this is where it gets complicated. again, it is great news for colombia. i want to be clear on that. so the agreement was publicly disclosed or the full agreement was put out publicly last week by santos and the rebels. so the peace agreement is now official.
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the cease-fire is in effect. we have seen a decrease in violence and the countryside between the army and the farc over the last 18 months. so there is a level of tranquility. the farc in the next couple of weeks will be meeting and what they're calling the final congress. the leadership of the farc and the rank-and-file have to approve the piece still. the farc leadership has collectively said they're committed to p peace. the issue of demobilized combatants is another issue which complicate some of the issues because a l lot of farc rank-and-file on the ground didd not contend wiwith the agreement itself and what is going to happppen with them in terms of e future, guarantees, etc. are agreeing to the accord, the congress has to take of a number of issues, particularly justice, transitional justice. as -- legislation has to be passed regarding who is going to be able to receive the so-called
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amnesty, right? that is where a lot o of the crititicism is coming in about e peace accord. impunity for years of violence in so-called terrorism. but it looks like the combatants who are not involved in crimes against humanity, the combatants will get amnesty and become part of the political life, but still uncertainty as to what will happen to those w who are implicated in massacres and crimes against humanity on the ground -- an issue that human rights groups are concerned about. they raise similar issues vis-a-vis the paramilitary groups that demobilized in 2006 and 2007. ththere's the quesestion of naro trafficking. is that issue considered a political crime because narco trafficking played such a central role in funding the armed insurgency? or is that going to be considered a crime that can't be amnestied. octotober 2, that is what was announced last week am a the country will go to vote in a so-called referendum.
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yes or no. it is a complicated simplistic question. ? climbingt piece commentators are saying we're the only country in the world we have to ask whether or not we want to live in peace or not. that is supposed to happen october 2. juan: i want to bring in adriana benjumea, longtime human rights attorney in colombia. your reaction to the accord and also to the issue of the punishment of those who did commit human rights crimes duduring the war? in colombia, men and women are very happy about the peace agreement between the colombian government and the farc guerrillas. this is a very important contrast for women would be to see to it that sexual violence committed by the actors and the armed conflict not be subject to amnenesty or pardoned. all of the armed actors who have
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dissipated have committed sexual crimes, and this should not be part of the amnesty or the pardon. this would represent major progress for the human rights sf women and this is why us women and why women are pleased with the peace agreement in colombia, and we have great hopes that on october 2, we will vote yes and we will say yes. juan: judge those who did commit sexual crimes or other major human rights vioiolations? >> a special justice system has been established with various courts. there is an initial moment when those who have committed crimes, members of the military forces, government forces, and the guerrillas, have to confess everything that they have done.. if they confess, that a community-based with social punishment, they would not go to
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prison. there is a second moment where if they confess late -- not initially because there is evidence -- and it will face somewhat harsher, tougher penalty. they could be imprisoned for five years to eight years. and those who o do not confess will face trial, and the penalty could be up to 20 years in prison. amy: what are the major challenges you see for survivors of sexual violence in colombia today? are very major challenges for everything that is written down to be actually carried out, for a crime such as sexual violence, it is very difficult for women to testify about this and girls to testify, so there complications for to be judged. for the government to have years to hear the victims and to make a commitment to see to it that sexual violence not be something wartime orerated in
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peacetime. juan: what has been the impact on the society in colombia for a war that has lasted so long, the impact on the day-to-day life of ordinary colombians? in colombia, there is great hope. in the poorest places, the poorest communities that have seen the bullets fly and who have experienced the violence in the midst of the war, they hold out great hope. but there is also fair because the right wing is moving forward. forcefully and there's also a risk of the colombian people saying, no, to peace. that would be a very sad day for colombia. joy,ight now with great there are announcements in the press about the importance of voting yes for peace and recently hope our children can wake up one day with a country that has signed an end to the armed conflict and headed down to build peace. militias right-wing
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throughout the civil war, many of them demobilized if you years back. what has been the result of that in terms of the death squads in the counter violence against guerrillas in the supporters of the guerrilla movement? >> it is an interesting, convnvenient reality that oppositition to the yes vote frm the people who are against the peace process, personified by uribe conveniently kind of pushed to the side because when they are talking about negotiating and signing an accord with the farc guerrillas in describing them as terrorists who have carried out this long history of violence against civilian population in the countryside and you can negotiate with terrorists 20's narcotraffickers, that is exactly what he did in 2006, 2007, as president will step notwithstanding a lolot of oppoposition to that. precisely because of the l link between the government forces
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and paramilitary. sort of like negotiating with themselves too demobilized. in the process of demobilization, so the auc, as an organization, no longer exists but many of the fighters -- juan: the right wing -- >> in many ways model the farc structures that they had in the countrtryside, creating fronts around the country. what happened was a lot of those groups still maintain their arms and are continuing to carry out acts of violence, aggression, pressure in local communities. what we're seeing today, for example, and this is not being discussed, the attacks against human righghts organizations, social organizations, the social that are supporting the peace process. they want the guns to silence between the farc and governmnme, but t after his reservations abt how that is going to happen, how
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that will impact them. a lot of these eaters -- leaders ring of the aggressions of the right in their territories, they arare being knocked off. there was a report in the first half of 2016, 36 human rights social justice organizations are around the country had been killed -- organizers around d te country have been killed. some have disappeared. a repeport recently published, a wonderful website that focuses on the social movement in colombia, up to 70% of those are either carried out by the remnants of the paramilitary groups or the security forces themselves. amy: what about the three environmental activiststs who wr organizing against illegegal mining who were assassinated in the southwestern province just this week? one of them, the founder of the campasina organization. >> there is the contradiction. on the one hand, the peace accord to have a very progressive, , very optimistic d
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lofty, ambitious goals for the countryside to address the many, many decades -- as we pointed out earlier -- in terms of economic developmement, autonomy of communities, territorial rights, infrastructure, etc. on the other hand, this government is completely cozy with multinational agribusiness, with extractive mining industry. in fact, these protests and the opposition to that, they've been focusing on how this government has been aggressively ceding mining contracts, mining licenses around territories that are supposedly protected constitutionally because they or landsdigenous protected in the constitution. these activists and many others who have been protesting that and trying to draw attention to that contradiction in this process are getting bumped off i secured forces and by dark forces that are remnants of the
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pillar military groups. juan: the guerrillas are disarming, but the military groups, the remnants are still armed and still terrorizing the population. colombiarecently in about a month ago and i wasn't doing work. i was visiting friends that i worked with for a long time in the indigenous movement. there are telling me, yes, as was pointed out by driana, they totally support the demobilization of the farc, but pointing out not all of the farc rebels -- we're talking bill young, peasant, very poor, many indigenous who have no options, have no possibilities and for them to surrender their weapons is not necessarily in their interest. they were talking about how some of those fighters are either putting on a different armband -- some of them
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are going to continue and participate in what they call -- these criminal bands and, criminality that still wields a lot of influence in some of these territories. so there is a concern. what happens to these farc when they dememobilize? that doesn't mean we should not strive for that. the indigenous movement is pushing for that, as all the social justice movements. as i pointed out, the primary opposition, very powerful, major influence in the colombia media is led by ururibe, in many waysa demagogue for the right in colombia, and they are primarily the upper middle classes, you see a lot of videos on social movements of women in theieir pearls, talking about how we cannot surrender this country to communism, going
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to turn into the next venezuela or cuba, and we shouldld vote no for this referendu at thehe people -- the majorityf the people in thehe countryside and a large cross-section of the urban population supports the agreement with the farc. juan: as part of the accords, the rebels who disarming, will each be paid by the government about $200 a month i think, in terms of maintenance of themselves and be allowed to form a political party. politicalect the farc party will become a major force in colombian society or will it just be sort of a marginal organization. >> i expect that the political parties for those who leave the guerrilla struggle will be a major party that we can all build democracy in colombia together.
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weapons, be waged with but within the bounds of politics. i think that many women and men are going to have options in different political parties, in the elections, local and the larger cities. i think if it were just the marginal party, it would be very tough for democraracy and clubbg because it is important at all society understand that we build democracy politically, with political parties. amy: the role of women in the peace talks? that is a very important question for women in colombia. aitially, well, it is been four-year peace process. the first two years, there were no women at the negotiating table. it was only in the third year that a subcommittee on gender issues was established and last year, women's organizations and expert women, many of us were invited to have anna to speak with the farc and the national
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government to talk, for example, about issues of sexual violence and women and girls who have been victims of sexual violence. we can say the negotiating table in havana, the two parties, did pay attention and incorporated our concerns into the peace agreement that has been presented to the country. so initially, women were not involved in the peace process. it did take stock of the issues of women. theid not take stock of quality of women we have in the country. the we in the women's movement and humanized movement have worked to see to it that our proposals as women be incorporated, particularly relating to land a issues and justice issues. amy: we want to thank you for being with us. mario, alcan dolollars is becaue it is the first time we're seeing you on the show, on the death of your wife maria. a wonderful column in rights activist lost -- a big loss to
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everyone. >> thank you very much. amy: mario murillo is a longtime colombian activist and a professor of communications at hofstra university. adriana benjumea, director of humanas colombia, a bogota-based ngo that promotes human rights and, in particular, women's rights. this is democracy now! when we come back, a woman tells 07e story of bouncing a$1.9 check for a loaf of bread and how it ballooned to hundreds of dollars and her in jail. she is not alone. are we running debtors prisons in this country? stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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julian conrado. amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: we turn now to arkansas to look at the case o of a mother o just spent 35 days in a county jail after she accidentally bounced a $29 check five years ago. nikki petree was sentenced to jail last month by a judge accused of running a debtors' prison. petree had already been arrested at least seven times over the bounced check and paid at least $600 in court fines -- more than 20 times more than the original debt. petree said -- "every time i go to jail, they'd let me out immediately for $100. they'd turn around and add $600 or $700 more to my bond. i couldn't afford to pay. they cornered me, and there was
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no way out from underneath it. i felt overwhelmed and hopeless." amy: nikki petree's release comes as the lawyers' committee for civil rights under law, the aclu, and international law firm morrison & foerster filed a class action civil rights lawsuit challenging the modern-day debtors' prison in sherwood, arkansas. the lawsuit was filed in the united states districtct court r the eaeastern district of arkansas against the city of sherwood, arkansas, pulaski county, arkansas, and judge milas s hale. petree is one of four named plaintiffs in the suit who allege their constitutional rights were violated by the hot check division of the sherwood district court when they were jailed for their inability to pay court fines and fees. the lawsuit alleges that sherwood pulaski county, engages in a policy and custom of jailing poor individuals who owe court fines, fees and costs stemming from misdemeanor bad check convictions. it also says they jail people in violation of a longstanding law that forbids the incarceration
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of people for their failure to pay debts. four -- for more we're joined by in washington, d.c., by kristen clarke, president and executive director of the lawyer's committee for civil rights under the law, one of the groups that filed this lawsuit. welcome to democracy now! can you explain exactly what happened to nikki petree. she ends up in jail for a $28 and change check for a check she did not realized it had bounced. she ends up in jail five years later? >> nikki petree is not alone. this is a debtors court system that has been in place in sherwood that preys on the back support people. nikki petree is one woman who exemplifies what happens if you are poor in sherwood. she wrote a check that was returned for insufficient funds about five years ago. that check amounted to about $28. since that time, she has spent
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more than 25 days in jail and has paid more than $600 in fines to the local court system. that is money that she did not have. she lives below the poverty line. she remains indebted by more than $2500 to the local court system. she was jailed at the time that we filed this suit last week. there are so many people like her in sherwood. we filed this lawsuit to bring an end to a court system that we believe praise on the back support people. juan: kristen clarke, you raise the issue of why this is happening. use a local court in minnesota how is the arkansas have used the poorest. you say that they're faced with opposition to increased taxes, minutes of hell's have turned to
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creating a system of debtors prisons to fuel the demand for increased public revenue. how extensive is this in arkansas that mean's abilities using this as a new revenue source -- municipalities are using this as a new revenue source? >> all over the country we are seeing the resurgence of debtors prison. and sherwood, this court has generated more than $12 million over the course of five years by imposing fines and fees over and over again on poor people who wrote checks to local merchants that were returned for insufficient funds. and ferguson, missouri, we saw local cars -- court system that was built on this concept of entangling people in the court system for transit -- traffic offenses. that court generated $20 million off the backs of poor people and ferguson.
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but we know these are not isolated practices. in 1983,happened is the supreme court made clear this is unconstitutional, that you cannot lock people up merely because they are poor. but what we have seen is the resurgence of debtors prison because there has not been enough enforcement to put a check on core systems like the one in place in sherwood. so we filed this lawsuit to era that hasto an been marred by a poor system that is presided by judge hale, he has disregarded the rights of poor people at every turn. what happens in sherwood is people get online outside his courtroom. they are forced to sign a waiver of their right to counsel. nobody is allowed in that courtroom but the defendants.
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if you come with a family member, advocate, or friend, you're not allowed in. there are no tapes or recordings of the proceedings, no transcripts of the proceedings. people appear without counsel by their sides. no one explains the rights to them. and every time they stand up before judge butch hale, he imposes fine fee and fine and fee and court costs on them, subjecting these people to a spiraling cycle of debt. amy: it is in a stoning story aboutp. didn't she end up owing something like $2600 on this $28 check? >> that is exactly right. she remains indebted by more than $2500, 20 $600. she spent more than 25 days in jail. she has are ready come out of pocket more than $600 -- that is money she does not have.
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she, like everybody who appears before this court, are poor people. ons is a court that preys the most vulnerable people in sherwood. they make a profit off of this. amy: we're a also joined by janice, a native of of little rock who has been caught up in sherwood's hot checks department for decades. she wrote a check for $1.07 that bounced. she currently has a warrant in the hot checks department and wishes to remain anonymous for fear of arrest. janice, you're in profile. you do not want to be seen. explain what happened to you. occasions, i have been arrested by sherwood police department for bounced checks. checks.ient funds i have even been arrested on my job -- two different jobs, as a
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matter of fact. two different hospitals. my checks has totaled i would say, less than $1000 worth of checks. they are small checks. was a bad manager. i did not keep a good register. so therefore, i had bounced checks. some were $20. $100 may have been the highest number of checks i wrote. but i have had accumulated fees up to thousands of dollars in fees and costs on roughly less than $1000 worth of checks. beforehen you go into the judge on these cases, what is the process? what happens there? >> he just bring you before him
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and, like, they say, you sign a waiver. you go up before the judge and he assesses your fees and court costs and give you monthly payment amount and tell you have to make this monthly payment by such and such date. you have a 10 day grace period. if it is not paid, there is another failure to pay warrant issued an additional costs and fines assessed to the amount you already have. amy: now, part of your struggle , is that right, janice, and you're trying to deal with medical costs as well? >> correct. amy: and is this judge hale you're going before you kristen clarke just described? >> yes, it is. amy: are you allowed to bring in a friend or family member, lawyer at your side?
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retain an you do attorney, an attorney can be there, the family members and friends are not allowed in. amy: so what is your situation right now? >> right now i have not been there since somewhere around 2008. i have an active warned because i could not afford to pay the monthly payment that he assessed if i00 because i feel as have paid restitution on the checks that i previously wrote, but these are all accumulated fines and court costs that have been assessed. on several occasions, they
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have come to arrest you on your job? a civilhis -- this is issue. why would they be coming to arrest you on your job? >> because that is what they do. even though they know your address, your home address, they will come out to your job as opposed to your home. and this has caused me to lose two jobs because of that. juan: kristen clarke, what about this issue -- normally of somebody writes a check that they don't have funds for condi ,ank will send them a charge but having law enforcement come in and arrest you for this, especially on your job? is this illegal? >> it is abusive debt collection practices, part of the scheme. the classroom represent in this case have had the cops show up p and insistrste
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they pay money now or they are threatened with arrest. i'm heartbroken the hear story of the woman who just spoke. but again, we know these are not isolated cases. this is a systemic pattern that exists across sherwood and across pulaski county. this is a court that is made big business out of preying on the back support people. they have made the focus on the most marginalized people in this community the focus of this court. people who have written small checks that are returned for insufficient funds. that is the focus of this court. i cannot tell you how many people we have talked to who have stories like the woman who just spoke. we represent a cancer patient in this case. you know, he was hospitalized and receiving chemotherapy. bounced for very small amounts. and this man has been jailed and remains indebted and thousands
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of dollars to a court. every time somebody appears before judge hale, he imposes more court costs, more fines, more fees. and there is no way out for the people who are entrapped in the system. amy: so word is a lawsuit go from here? >> we filed a federal class-action lawsuit. the woman who just spoke may indeed be somebody who is a member of this class. we will fight. we believe that sherwood is a poster child, if you will. this is a classic example of a debtors s prison. we believe we will be successful at the end of f the day in securing really for the poor people of sherwood. we believe that when somebody faces criminal charges, they should have a lawyer by their side. they should have a judge who warns them about their rights and who counsels them about their rights and respects theirr
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due prococess righthts. .e will fight on then w we're going to lolook elsewhere e around the country because we know that this is a nationwide problem that we face. all around the country, we have seen the resurgence of debtors prisons. we have seen the criminalization of poverty. so we're going to fight until we .nd ththis practice the ruling that says you cannot lock poor people up merely because of their inability to pay a fine or fee. amy: i want to thank you, kristen clarke, and janice -- not her real name. she is an shadow because of whwt she f faces as a poor person who is a victim of sherwood's hot checks department and arkansas. when we come back, mumia
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abu-jamal loses a case to get hep c treatment in prison. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "very black," by jamilah woods. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: we end today's show with news that a federal judge has denied a request from the former black panther and journalist mumia abu-jamal for life-saving medication that could cure his hepatitis c. mumia has been in prison in pennsylvania since he was convicted of killing a police officer in 1981. he always maintained his innocence and amnesty international said he didn't receive a fair trial. his death sentence was overturned in 2011 on constitutional grounds and he is now serving life without parole. last year, mumia sued to receive an anti-viral treatment for
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hepatitis c after he was placed in critical condition, and officials said he was not sick enough to be eligible. the medication has about a 95% cure rate. but it costs the state about $55,000 for 12-week course of the drug. amy: on wednesday u.s. district court judge robert mariani denied a motion for preliminary injunction that would have let him order the treatment for mumia without going to trial. the denial was based on a technicality that the lawsuit should have named the state's hepatitis c committee for prisoner treatment instead of targeting the warden and the prison system's medical chief. even as the judge denied mumia's motion, he also found that pennsylvania's hepatitis c protocol for prisoners fails to meet constitutional standards, and could prolong suffering. pennsylvania treats just about five of more than 6000 prisoners who are infected with hepatitis c. this mirrors untreated epidemics in prisons around the country. prison spoke to mumia abu-jamal after the judge's
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ruling. this is what mumia said. >> it is a good beginning that a federal judge recognizes that what the commonwealth is doing and has been doing for years is not only unjust, but not right. unconstitutional. a violation of fundamental fairness and the human right to life. so it is a beginning. it is a good beginning. we want a goodod ending. amy: well, for more, we are joined by bob boyle, one of mumia abu-jamal's lawyers on the case, and by democracy now! correspondent renee feltz, who also writes for the guardian where she covered these developments. bob, explain. the judge was clearly angered by what is happening to the prisoners, but rolled on this technicality. >> the judge ruled the pennsylvania protocol for treating hepatitis c is unconstitutional. essentially, under their policy, a human being has to be on the verge of death. your blood vessels have to be in danger of bursting inside your
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chest before your given this life-saving medicatioion and the judge found this is blatantly unconstitutional. the only rolled against us on the ground that we did not name this so-called hepatitis c committee. the secret group of people who meet in secret and decide whether someone gets this drug. we did sue the warden, the head of the pennsylvania health department, and we did not even know of the existence of this committee at the t time we filed the lawsuit. so it is a technicality that we are going to challenge and fight until mumia gets this life-saving medication. juan: 5000 prisoners in pennsylvanania have hepatitis c, but only five are receiving treatment? >> it is probably closer to 6000. i think our latest estimate, toy have upped it all away 30 out of 6000 who are receiving
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this treatment. costsbecause this drug not just $55,000, at $84,000. $1000 per pill. pennsylvania department of corrections is acting in an unconstitutional manner in this regard, but also it is unconscionable that drug companies -- and it is only because we have the verbal health system that we have -- in charge this amount of money which will save -- denial of which could cause death. amy: but hepatatitis c, if left untreated, leads to cirrhosis of the liver, which costs even more to treat. courts absolutely, and causes death and irreversible damage. remember, hepatitis c is a comedic double disease. some people come out of prison by either sharing needles or sexual contact can pass the virus to other people who then have hepatitis c and have to be treated.
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shortsighted,mely and that is really a euphemism. it is really criminanal it is going on. amy: reneeee feltztz, put this a national context. >> it is not just pennsylvania. most every state across the country has thousands of inmates in their presence you have hepatitis c. many of them do not even know they have it because the prisons do not provide testing. there have been class-action lawsuits not only in pennsylvania in addition to what mumia and his attorneys have filed, but class-action lawsuits in tennessee where there is another limited number of prisoners who are able to get the treatment can also in massachusetts and minnesota. new york has done a little better. they have increased funding by about 350% to provide these life-saving hepatitis c drugs to prisoners, including robert seth hayes, with the former black panther and considered a political prisoner. he was able to be cured of hep c
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when you got the treatment in new york, but has many dust he has many, many other problems with his health. he is elderly and still pushing to be granted parole. he is been denied 10 times. juan: for prisons at this cost, and with so many inmates suffffering from hepatitis c, ts is a budget buster for a lighter prison systems. >> that's right. the drug company that makes this drug was investigated by the senate in 2014. they found by looking at the company's own documents is the cost was not determined by devevelopment or the cost of acquiring the drug, but simply to makake money.y. they were not concerned about the access, the challenges it would present to access. >> in egypt, for example, which is not subject to u.s. patent laws, it cost about $100 a pill. $10 in india. it is only in this country where it costs so much. amy: we will leave it there but
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we will continue to follow this story. bob boyle one of the attorneys for mumia abu-jamal and renee feltz democracy now! correspondent. the correction, the hacker sentenced to 52 months in prison after being extradited from romania goes by the name g guccifer ine, not 2.0. and that does it for our show. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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